This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage.
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page

South Campus receives first residents
September 7, 1998

The University's newest residence halls opened August 30 as planned, with little fanfare but much praise.

Nearly 700 upbeat students moved into their new suites as the academic year began, moving easily around dozens of workers who continue to pour concrete, lay paving stones and sod, build offices for the Honors Program and touch up rooms and lounges. Although given the option of relocating until all work was done, every resident who had checked in by Tuesday night chose to stay.

"I've been on a lot of campuses, and I can say that these students, without question, have one of the finest residence halls in the country. This is not just a place to live, but a place to live and learn," said Vicky Triponey, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Triponey also praised UConn's residential life and facilities workers, whose efforts during the week before opening were instrumental in preparing the halls for occupancy.

The complex is comprised of three residence halls and a commons building with a dining hall/conference center. Assignments in the residence halls, reserved primarily for upper division students, have been made with an eye to enhancing the students' academic development. One building is reserved for students enrolled in the honors program and most of the residents of another building were selected because of their interest in residing in one of 10 academic "clusters," designed to place students with similar interests into a shared location where they can interact more easily and work together out of the classroom setting.

Clusters in South Campus have been created for students majoring in art, music, drama, communication sciences, English, study abroad and international studies, journalism, nursing, mathematics, and women interested in science and mathematics.

About 400 other students were chosen based on their semester standing. Most of those students - 302 - live in the third residential building.

"This campus has the potential to create a wonderful living-learning environment because it's primarily a residential campus," said Susan Steele, vice provost for undergraduate education and instruction.

"Other universities would die for this opportunity. We are able to create a dynamic bundle combining our students' academic and social lives. South Campus gives us an opportunity to experiment with this concept in a number of ways, then we can fine tune it and expand it to other areas of campus."

All three residence halls, consisting primarily of four-person suites, have an atmosphere that is conducive to study. The doors to each unit open into the living area of the suite, which also has a self-contained bathroom, curtailing much of the usual hubbub of residence hall life. As a result, the halls in South Campus are quiet, sounds muffled by carpeting. Some areas are also smoke free.

The brick facade and slate roofs of the Collegiate Gothic-style buildings, similar to some of UConn's older buildings, fit within the scheme of the Master Plan, which prizes a consistent look among the more than 100 buildings on the Storrs campus. Wood trims accent the interior of the buildings.

"I like the suite set-up and I love the quiet," said Tawna Schilling, a transfer student from Cape Cod Community College and an honors student who has a 3.81 grade point average in sociology.

Schilling will live with 151 other students enrolled in the Honors Program in a building that will soon also house the Honors Program's offices and five classrooms ranging in size from 15 to about 50 seats. Each building also contains at least one apartment that can be occupied by visiting or full-time faculty members willing to live in the building and offer programming for students in return for lower rent, said Kim Chambers, coordinator of academic programs in residence halls. The professors could offer workshops or educational programs, meet with residents during meals or office hours or, perhaps, advise one of the academic clusters, Chambers said.

The classrooms will be used for seminars, honors classes and classes relating to the clusters.

Officials said the complex sets a new standard for how universities can integrate campus housing into student life.

When completed in November, the commons building will offer recreation, fitness, study and computer areas on the first floor; a "marketplace" dining area with seven service points students can visit, each offering a different type of food, on the second level; and banquet facilities on the upper level that can accommodate as many as seven groups at the same time.

All four buildings are air-conditioned, and offer students direct access to the University's computer network and the Internet.

Next summer, UConn officials said, Northwest Campus will be completely renovated and about one year later, North Campus will be redone. Funding is also set aside in Phase II of UConn 2000 for the renovation of Alumni Quad, West Campus, the graduate dorms and the interior of the Towers Complex.

Richard Veilleux